Permanent Future Institute
Melissa Miles, M.S., AOLCP, Director, Senior Designer/Lead Teacher
Melissa is an Environmental Biologist/Conservation Planner, Permaculture Designer/Teacher, a PA Certified Master Composter and a NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional. Melissa holds an A.S. in Animal Science, a B.S. in Environmental Biology and an M.S. in Green Building. She has been serving as Organizer for the Eastern Pennsylvania Permaculture Guild for the past six years and is a Permaculture Mentor for Gaia University’s International Diploma in Permaculture Design program. Melissa teaches and lectures at several institutions in the region, including Longwood Gardens and the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum.Melissa is currently pursuing a PhD in Eco-village Design.
The Aquaponic Source
JD Sawyer is the founder of Colorado Aquaponics, and as of the fall of 2015, is also the co-owner of TheAquaponic Source with his wife Tawnya. Since 2009 JD has been building and operating aquaponic systems while also providing education for schools and communities throughout Colorado and beyond. Prior to starting Colorado Aquaponics, he spent eight years as the Director of Operations at Johnson & Wales University. JD authored and implemented campus master plans, oversaw multiple departments and managed over forty million dollars of capital improvement projects. He is now applying his skills in project management, facilities, operations, education and financial planning to create sustainable food production systems for families and communities worldwide. Through extensive research, training and work experience, JD has built comprehensive business models and system designs to help demonstrate the financial viability as well as identify the risks involved with commercial aquaponic farming. In 2012 he was the chair of the annual Aquaponics Association conference and continued to serve on the advisory board until 2014. He is also a lead instructor in the highly acclaimed aquaponic farming course, a four day intensive course taught at three different aquaponic farms around the country.
JD and Tawnya also created and still manage a 3,200sqft hybrid aquaponics farm called Flourish Farm in partnership with the GrowHaus which is located in an urban north east Denver community classified as a food desert. The hybrid approach utilizes media beds, deep water culture and vertical growing towers in an integrated system to provide a wide range of produce options. There are three main fish tanks housing tilapia and hybrid striped bass providing nutrient rich water for the plants. A single pump recirculates the water while gravity does most of the work moving water the fish tanks to the main production growing environment. The farm produces over 20,000 lbs of produce annually donating a portion to the local community while selling the remaining produce to local restaurants and markets that are all within a 5 mile radius of the farm. The farm has proven to be self sustaining financially and is one of the longest running urban aquaponic farms in the United States.